“Some People Have Evil Eyes”: Navigating Traditional Ghanaian and Global/Western Norms about Appearance during Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

Elizabeth Yemorkor ODOI*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


    Local Ghanaian cultural norms surrounding pregnancy and early motherhood often tend to be in contradiction with certain globalized /Western norms. The yummy mummy discourse denotes a fashionably dressed and sexualized maternal body. This discourse is however in conflict with the situation in most part of Africa and Ghana where pregnant women are expected to avoid tight and skimpy outfits, be modest in appearance and also keep their pregnancy a secret to avoid been harmed by supernatural powers. Based on semi-structured interviews with 42 women from diverse educational backgrounds in Ghana, this paper examines how mothers in Ghana negotiate local Ghanaian traditional norms about appearance (dressing and general look) that emphasize the desexualization of the maternal body and Global/Western norms that emphasize sexualization of the body. Preliminary findings indicate that certain women paid less attention to dressing and appearance due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, some women leaned either towards traditional or global norms about appearance while others drew on, weaved together and contested some aspects of global and local discourses in the development of alternative practices, such as wearing tight leggings with a big/flair top during pregnancy and sharing yummy mummy like-baby bump photos on social media after rather than before birth. Factors such as education, type of mother (primipara or multipara) and the assessment by disciplinarians such as elderly family, individuals from personal and social networks influenced women’s actions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2022
    Event9th Global Social Sciences Graduate Student e-Conference - Zoom Meeting, Hong Kong
    Duration: 28 Apr 2022 → …
    https://sosc.hkbu.edu.hk/en/news_and_events/event_calendar/9thconf/ (Conference website)
    https://sosc.hkbu.edu.hk/upload/news_event/496/self/upupdatedbooklet.pdf (Conference booklet)


    Conference9th Global Social Sciences Graduate Student e-Conference
    Country/TerritoryHong Kong
    Period28/04/22 → …
    Internet address

    User-Defined Keywords

    • appearance
    • Yummy Mummy
    • Global
    • traditional
    • Ghana
    • norms


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